More Blessed To Give
-an article for the North Shore News ‘Spiritually Speaking’ column
Worry, fear, and anger are the greatest disease-causers. They can literally eat us alive, from the inside out. The root of most anger is fear. Many males feel safer and more powerful being angry than in facing their fears. Dr. E. Stanley Jones, best-selling author of 28 books, spoke of the law of self-abandonment by which we are able to say: ‘I do not want anything, therefore I am afraid of nothing.’ Similarly he said that ‘there are two ways to be rich – one in the abundance of your possessions and the other in the fewness of your wants.’
ES Jones spoke of ‘the two greatest problems of life, namely, money and women’ (i.e. male-female relationships). Counselors tell us that the three greatest causes of marriage breakup are sex, money, and in-laws! Jones believed that ‘our greatest sins are economic sins, sins so hidden under respectability and under custom that we are scarcely aware of them.’ Quoting the counselor Dr. Alfred Adler, Jones commented: "All the ills of personality can be traced back to the fact that people do not understand the meaning of the phrase: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’.
"People", said ES Jones, "retire to enjoy their wealth. Nothing is more elusive and fatuous. You cannot enjoy your wealth. Your wealth must be creative in creating and in augmenting the joy of others, or else it is ill-th, not weal-th." Mammon/money drives the driven and lashes the tired. At age sixty-five there are twice as many women alive as men. The medical verdict is ‘high blood pressure’, but E. Stanley Jones saw it as ‘high blood-money pressure’ which drives men mad or to the mortuary.
Jones humorously commented that some people suffer from a spiritual headache because unsurrendered wealth is pressing on the nerve that leads to the pocketbook. He tells the remarkable story of Asa G. Candler. Candler kept struggling unsuccessfully with his addiction to alcohol until he heard a Voice tell him to surrender himself. From that hour, he was delivered not only from the desire to drink, but also from the love of money. Asa Candler, who founded the Coca Cola Company, was so grateful to Jesus that he consistently gave seventy-five percent of his vast income to God’s work. Candler believed that ‘the central thing in Christianity is the final and total yielding of the self, its renunciation and rejection and the entire surrender of the life to the will and way of God.’
ES Jones believes that "the greatest single factor that keeps people from going on to perfection is the deceitfulness of riches, for no one ever feels that it is a danger to him." It has been said that we need two conversions: one of our heart and a second one of our wallet. ES Jones told the story of a poverty-stricken boy named Colgate met a steamboat captain who encouraged him to give his heart to Jesus and give one tenth of all he made to Him. The boy promised both, and through his Colgate Toothpaste Company, ended up giving millions to serving others.
Jones believed that abundant living depends upon abundant giving. He knew that outflow determined inflow. If we don’t breathe out, we can’t breathe in and we will literally smother. Similarly, said Jones, if a cow is not milked, it will go dry. How many of us may have gone through times of spiritually dryness because our financial udder needed milking?
Jones once said that ‘wealth is like manure: put in one pile it is a stinking mass, but distributed across the fields it produces golden grain.’ Jones took seriously the biblical call in 2 Corinthians 9:7 to be a ‘hilarious giver’. He knew that it is wrong to give out of fear, guilt, or pressure. Only joyful gratitude to God will do. God is always more generous, more self-giving, more loving than we will ever be. I thank God for the many generous people I know who have discovered that it is truly more blessed to give than to receive.
The Rev. Ed Hird
Rector, St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver
Anglican Coalition in Canada